Be your own guru
What lessons would you tell your younger self? What lessons can you pass on to the young for a positive, lasting impact? By Melanie Iznaola
Let’s take a moment and explore: what does guru mean? What is being a guru exactly and how do you become your own? The definition of guru literally translates to teacher, especially one who imparts initiation. Meaning mentor, teacher, master, expert, or leader. So now how do we become our own mentor, teacher and expert?
This is something we have all pondered. Who am I? What is my purpose? How will I find myself and become who I was always meant to be? Isn’t this the toughest question of all? Does any one person truly find who they are supposed to be?
For me I ponder this question and think: if I could go back in time and tell my younger self something, what would it be? Would my younger self take this advice and put it into practice, or would my younger self ignore my older self’s advice? The biggest part of me thinks ‘oh I would for sure listen,’ but then again, would I? Maybe I would continue down the path my younger self sees fit.
I do feel we each have to go through the many experiences along our journeys to find out who we really are, how we can create an impact, make a difference and find our place in this life. For me, I feel each
moment and challenge gives you a learning tool, on how to handle similar situations better in the future. I also feel it helps to shape us into the badass warrior goddesses (and gods) we are.
If I was to speak to my younger self I may or may not have a lot to say. You see, as I have said, going through every moment in my life has led me to where I am today. I am in the place I should be. I am happy and slowly I am becoming my own guru.
One that takes years of learning how to and how not to do. Going back to the definition of guru, we see the synonym, ‘expert’. An expert doesn’t just come automatically, it takes many trials and errors to become
proficient and excel at what you do.
Therefore, in speaking to my younger self, I would simply say, ‘trust in the process’, ‘have unwavering confidence in yourself’, ‘believe you can, and you will’. Words have power! So, choose them wisely. Think in a positive mindset and speak with positivity.
I would also tell my younger self to see the world, as travel is one of our greatest teachers. It not only opens our hearts, but it opens our minds. In travelling, you learn other perspectives, gaining valuable knowledge and a better understanding. We are each unique and that’s what makes us powerful. Being unique you can bring something different, and new. Being different, you bring a different skill set that no one else has other than you. Use that and hone in on your power. Cultivate your superpower, be it kindness like helping others in need, personal skills, or leadership skills.
I would encourage my younger self to become an excellent communicator, work hard and smart, lead by example and develop strong relationships. Have you ever heard the phrase: ‘Monkey see Monkey do’? That means leading by example is more effective than speaking. In order to make a difference you have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. For years I wanted to make a difference in the marine ecosystem; I had this passion to protect marine animals and habitants, however I wasn’t taking the action to do it. I would talk about how much we needed to change our habits and educate others on how to do the same. Fortunately, my older self grew into a secure, determined individual. This led me to take a huge leap of faith in my talents and knowledge and ability to learn the unknown.
“I do feel we each have to go through the many experiences along our journeys to find out who we really are, how we can create an impact, make a difference and find our place in this life”
Fast forward to two years ago I founded Tortuga Soul LLC. This is my baby. My passion. Tortuga Soul was established with the mission to make that difference. To protect the marine life that doesn’t have a voice. To give them a fighting chance. I founded Tortuga Soul on the principle that I have a superpower in kindness.
It does take effort. Some days I feel like I can change the world, other days I question whether I can really do this. It’s all about finding balance within the ebb and flow. If you want something you have to work for it; it will not show up in a pretty packaged box with a bow. Sometimes you must push past your comfort zone, as that’s when you truly grow the most.
Now that I am a mummy of two beautiful souls, I think back to all the advice (or lack of) that others have or have not given me, and this makes me think. What do I want to advise, and what values do I want to instil in my children? Our future depends on the younger generation. We can help educate them.
Advice to my children
The biggest advice to my children, our future, is this:
• Become accountable for what you need to change.
• Own the changes you make to your life, which makes you feel more productive.
• Only you have control over how you react to situations. Will you react in a positive way or negatively?
• Always know your worth and be kinder to yourself.
• Don’t get caught up in the difficulties of the moment, they are only temporary.
• Educate yourself, as this is the best investment you could offer yourself. Learn about your interests, career and hobbies. Become that expert. Find a mentor, surround yourself with the people you’d like to become. Read and read a lot as books give us access to some of the greatest minds and ideas that ever lived. Don’t ever stop learning and growing.
• Work hard: if you see yourself doing something in a mediocre way, change it. If we do something in a mediocre way it harms our psyche and our prospects. It will negatively impact our credibility, lets others down and erodes our self-esteem. Give care to even the smallest of tasks.
• Change your way of thinking, change your way of life. Regardless of what life changes you face (a change of income, relationship or environment), we will always revert back to what our self-image tells us we deserve and what we expect from our life. In other words, you will become what you think.
Melanie Iznaola is this month’s OM cover star. Find her on Instagram: @traveling_yogigirl
SELF-CARE & MINDFULNESS
In my little family I teach my young children valuable tools and ways to practice self-care and mindfulness. Below are some of these ways.
1. On our bathroom mirrors we have notes to ourselves offering words of positivity, or a Sankalpa (intention formed from the heart and mind). Normally, this starts with ‘I am…’. The Sankalpa is a tool meant to refine the will. For example, ‘I am abundant’ (meaning life force to produce more, create more, grow more and, in the end, becoming more).
2. Every week we practice self-care Sunday. On this day as a family we practice meditation and mindfulness. Before we start, we think about our goals for the upcoming week, something we want to accomplish.
During the meditation we repeat these goals/affirmations. Words have power: if you think positively, you react positively.
3. Gratitude: this is a massive practice in our household. Each morning we state three things we are most grateful for. That’s because it is impossible to be both happy and sad at the same time.
4. Get outdoors! Mother nature is our greatest teacher, we can learn the most about ourselves while being in nature and listening to what she has to offer. Studies have shown by being in nature our stress and anxiety levels improve. Physiology-wise, the same studies have shown our heart rate and blood pressure lowers, which indicates a more relaxed state. Nature also relieves attention fatigue and increases creativity. With today’s technology-driven world sometimes we need to disconnect to reconnect. I challenge you to take the time to think: what would you tell your younger self? And what can you do today to start putting that advice into action. These are the first steps to becoming your own guru.
First published in November 2009, OM Yoga magazine has become the most popular yoga title in the UK. Available from all major supermarkets, independents and newsstands across the UK. Also available on all digital platforms.